Indian fishing video sparks attack against newspaper

Don't miss Nick Coleman's Strib column about tribal fishing from yesterday. It's a chilling recount of how video of Mille Lacs tribal members netting and cleaning walleye led to a vicious backlash -- and even a denial of service attack against the paper itself.

[T]he paper posted a video on its website showing fishermen from the nearby Mille Lacs Indian Reservation removing walleye from tribal gill nets and cleaning the fish for eating. Normal, legal and part of Ojibwe culture for centuries. But seeing it on YouTube made some walleye lovers angry, especially the bigots who posted vicious rants on the site. More than 18,000 visitors have seen the video ...

For some reason, tribal members practicing a cultural act thousands of years old inflames passions in many non-Indian fishermen. It can bring out the worst sides of people, which is a shame, given what we'd hope about the shared act of fishing building bridges across racial boundaries.

For years, I worked with tribal fishermen out west who didn't see the act of harvesting fish as much different than breathing. It's what you do, part and parcel of being alive. Also, this is settled law. It's not controversial. The tribes' right to fish is rooted in treaties, which are rooted in turn rooted in the U.S. Constitution, and as such as supreme as the law of the land gets.

Coleman's column examines the actions of a vocal few who don't care about these facts -- including some so enraged that they apparently tried to shut down the paper's Web site for daring to post video of Mille Lacs fishing. Frightening stuff.

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